Delhi High Court reserves order in AAP MLAs disqualification matter

On January 19, 2018, EC had made the recommendation for the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs.

Delhi High Court reserves order in AAP MLAs disqualification matter

Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its order on 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs' plea challenging their disqualification in office-of-profit case.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar kept its decision pending after the MLAs, Election Commission of India (EC) and other parties concerned concluded their arguments.

The MLAs had on Tuesday told the court that EC's order disqualifying them for allegedly holding office-of-profit was passed in "complete violation of natural justice" as they were not given the opportunity to explain their stand before the poll panel.

The bench was also requested by the legislators to remand their case back to the poll panel with a direction to hear the matter afresh.

The MLAs had approached the HC challenging their disqualification after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his nod to the EC's recommendation.

Backing its recommendation to the President for AAP MLAs' disqualification, the poll panel had submitted that the legislators cannot claim that they were not holding office-of-profit.

The EC had earlier claimed that the disqualified MLAs' plea was not maintainable and was liable to be dismissed.

The HC was hearing the plea on a day-to-day basis since February 7, 2018.

Earlier, on January 24, 2018, the Delhi High Court had refused to stay the Centre's notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit.

The HC had summoned the entire records pertaining to the proceedings leading to the recommendation of the EC for 20 MLAs' disqualification which received the President's assent on January 20, 2018.

On January 19, 2018, the poll panel had made the recommendation for the disqualification of the 20 legislators, which was given assent by the President.

On January 20, 2018, the Ministry of Law and Justice issued a notification that the President had held that the 20 MLAs stand disqualified under Section 15(1)(a) of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act.

The EC had made the recommendation while deciding a plea by advocate Prashant Patel, seeking disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs for holding the office of parliamentary secretaries, which he had said amounted to office of profit.

Proceedings against Jarnail Singh were dropped after he resigned as the Rajouri Garden MLA to contest the Punjab Assembly polls.

The MLAs, whose appointment to the post of Parliamentary Secretaries between March 13, 2015, and September 8, 2016, was held as office of profit, contended that the entire episode leading to their disqualification was a clear manifestation of the process in which they were denied the principle of natural justice of being heard.

On January 22, 2018, the MLAs had withdrawn from the HC their earlier applications as they became infructuous on account of President giving his assent to the EC's recommendation to disqualify them. They had said that the decision by the President as well as the EC was taken in "undue haste".

The 20 MLAs include Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Anil Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh) - who is also a minister - Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura).

The others are Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur), Rajesh Rishi (Janakpuri), Sanjeev Jha (Burari), Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar), Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar), Sharad Kumar (Narela), Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar), Sukhbir Singh (Mundka), Vijendar Garg (Rajinder Nagar) and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).

(With PTI inputs)

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